'Be silent or you're next' | The Daily Star
12:32 AM, February 15, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:38 AM, February 15, 2019

'Be silent or you're next'

Philippines journo slams Duterte govt after being freed on bail; Canada FM condemns arrest

Philippine journalist Maria Ressa was freed on bail yesterday following an arrest that sparked international censure and allegations she is being targeted over her news site's criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Ressa, 55, spent a night in detention after authorities arrested the veteran reporter at her Manila office Wednesday in a sharp upping of government pressure on her and her website Rappler.

The site and Ressa have been hit with tax evasion charges and now a libel case after clashing repeatedly with Duterte over his deadly crackdown on narcotics that has killed thousands.

"The message that the government is sending is very clear... be silent or you're next," an emotional Ressa told reporters outside a Manila court.

She stumped up a bond of 100,000-pesos ($1,900), the sixth time since December that she has paid bail on a government case.

"I am appealing to you not to be silent, even if -- and especially if -- you're next," added Ressa, who was named a Time Magazine "Person of the Year" in 2018 for her journalism.

International condemnation from dignitaries, press freedom and human rights groups has poured in since plainclothes agents appeared at Rappler to serve an arrest warrant.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland tweeted she was "deeply troubled" by Ressa's arrest Wednesday.

"A free press is a bedrock of democracy. Canada reiterates its call for due process to be respected and for journalists to be free from harassment and intimidation," Freeland added.

Former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, tweeted in support: "The arrest of journalist @mariaressa by the Philippine government is outrageous and must be condemned by all democratic nations."

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